Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

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Rudy van der Elst

Former Director, Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI)


Prof. Rudy van der Elst is a marine scientist with more than 40 years’ experience in the field of coastal and marine research, including fisheries assessment and management. Until his retirement from the directorship of the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) in July 2012, Rudy has been able to develop and lead research programmes that have been designed to provide a scientific basis for sustainable marine-related conservation in South Africa and especially KwaZulu-Natal.

Simultaneously, Prof. van der Elst forged a range of scientific partnerships in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region and has been involved in the planning and implementation of a number of regional programmes including the South-West Indian Ocean Fisheries Project (SWIOFP), TRANSMAP, the IUCN/NORAD WIO Marine Biodiversity Conservation Project, and WIOFish database.

He served on the WIOMSA Board from 2009 to 2013. As ORI director, he was responsible for a suite of research programme involving 25 scientific staff and generating an annual research budget of ~R 12 million. He also deputised for the CEO of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) which includes the acclaimed uShaka Marine World.

He has authored or co-authored some 440 publications, reports and consultancy reports, 57 in the primary literature. His Overall Scholar Citation Index stands at 1222. In addition, he published 7 books on fishes, some with a circulation of more than 100 000.